A lengthy but absorbing tale steeped in profundity.


From the Orphan Dreamer Saga series , Vol. 4

A girl capable of time travel attempts to prevent Armageddon in this fourth installment of Brown’s eschatological fantasy saga.

It’s 1998, and 16-year-old Daniela Rose Cavanaugh is the Orphan Dreamer. She’s destined to use her time-traveling Glass Tattoo to try rescuing humans from a pandemic, the precursor to Armageddon on Earth. In this novel’s concurrent narrative, set in the present day, humanity faces multiple threats, from Covid-20 to an “invisible planet” set to collide with Earth in less than a year. But Covid-20 may be a “trial run” for a deadlier pandemic that fallen angel Nomed has long been planning. Daniela’s mission to avert Armageddon involves traveling to 575 B.C.E. to find Yahweh’s prophet Ezekiel and solve the mystery of the enigmatic Skeleton Key. At the same time, she dreams of her “oily boy,” teen Cillian Finn, who’s an enslaved person in India. She prays to Yahweh, asking for an angel to help Cillian, though she’s still unsure if the boy is the prophesied Antichrist—perhaps the most discernible sign of humanity’s end. With the companionship of her best friend and assistance from a powerful angel, Daniela hopes to save the world. Despite the time-hopping narrative, Brown’s epic tale is easy to follow. Not only do chapter headers clarify the time period and locale, but the story often stays in one era for prolonged narrative stretches. Characters spend much of the story discussing everything from religions to the racism that Daniela, as a brown girl, and others have endured. They also repeatedly, sometimes excessively, address certain topics, like who or what are the Nephilim, the human/fallen angel hybrids eagerly anticipating Armageddon. But Brown’s smart, incisive writing ensures the measured story avoids lulls with many surprises.

A lengthy but absorbing tale steeped in profundity. (author’s notes, dedications, acknowledgements, author bio)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021


Page Count: 655

Publisher: J. Nell Brown, LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A rush of emotion and suspense.


Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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